The Women’s Room Collective: Presented by Pat The Dog Theatre

Pat the Dog’s Women’s Room began in 2016 after a series of conversations at our Kitchener office with local women. We wanted to find a way to encourage local female-identifying and female-presenting creators to share their stories. Each year, the Women’s Room invites a new cohort of theatre creators to gather for conversation, creative support, learning, and camaraderie as we carve out an equitable space on our national stages. There is an urgent need for women to gather: To prod, promote, encourage, build craft, and support each other as we carve out an equitable space on our national stages to tell our stories. This is what the Women’s Room fiercely and lovingly is all about. The Women’s Room belongs to all women storytellers who seek to gather to tell their tales and tell them well.

Rachel Behling
Rachel Behling is the Proprietress of Auburn Vintage Clothiers in the little town of Conestogo. She has worn and loved vintage clothing all her life. ‘Dressing up’ has carried into her everyday life, not only professionally but as a hobby as well. She has been involved in local theatre as actor, producer, director and most recently, playwright. When Rachel isn’t in the shop or knee-deep in laundry, she’s busy collecting stories to share.

Catherine Frid
Catherine Frid is a Guelph-based playwright whose full-length works have been produced at the Toronto Fringe, Guelph Museums, Mixed Company Theatre, Kitchener’s Unhinged Festival, Alumnae Theatre, SummerWorks and others. She also co-creates community-engaged plays in our area. Her publications include Our Voices: Senior Selfies (Art Age Publications) and This Isn’t Toronto in Long Story Short, a Playwrights Canada Press 10-minute play anthology. Catherine has taught dramaturgy at Ryerson University’s Chang School, and been Playwright in Residence at Mixed Company Theatre and Artist in Residence at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Susan Grise
I am a middle-aged (assuming I live to 100) prairie-girl who found a new home in southern Ontario many years ago where I work as a Teacher Librarian in a secondary school with throngs of teenagers that keep me mentally sharp, but a little nuts. I have four children who make me proud every day and who demonstrate through their thoughts and actions that they are remarkable, beautiful people. I started writing plays for what I think is a fairly common reason; I felt like there were characters occupying my mind and wanting their stories to be told. I have written two full-length plays and hope to continue writing for live acting on a stage. When I write, I feel like I am sharing consciousness with the characters in my plays, as if they are real people who live because their stories are told.

Irena Huljak
Irena Huljak was in the Off- Broadway production “Shakespeare in Space “ (Mint Theatre ). She enjoyed roles such as Mercutio in “ Romeo and Juliet ” (Classical Theatre Brooklyn) and Beatrice in “ The Changeling ” (Annex Theatre). Recently she produced a web-series “ Open “. She just finished a development project about the modernization of The Trojan Women renamed Fallen. Fallen. You may have seen her in television shows such as American Gods, Anna, May Day, and The Boys. She is thrilled to be part of The Hillside Homeside Festival through Pat the Dog. Pat the Dog has been a sanctuary for her. 

Nicola Jane Thomas
Nicola Jane Thomas is a British-born African Diaspora Writer, Founder of Grand River Food Forestry, Permaculture Design Consultant and Community Capacity Builder – moving through this land, connecting the lineages from the Caribbean, West Africa, Celtic and Canadian.
An avid environmentalist, Nicola inspires communities to steward the soil, grow edibles and increase pollinator corridors in under-utilized green spaces. She first created an Urban Bioshelter at her home in Kitchener and then the first Food Forest at Kitchener’s Forest Heights Community Centre in 2015 followed by the Edible Trails project. Through her commitment to increasing community awareness of sustainable ecological land practices, she has been recognized as one of Canada’s “Top 100 Black Women to Watch 2016”, City of Kitchener Environmental Leader 2019 and a Heart of the City National Park Delegate.

Zehra Nawab
Zehra Nawab is a multidisciplinary artist. She is an actor, director and writer for repertory theater and film. She has most recently acted in the original play ‘Dear Baby’ and in the adaptation of the ‘Bald Soprano’. Zehra is the writer and co-director of documentaries ‘Home Truths,’ exhibited as part of the travelling Making Heimet exhibit from the Venice Biennale and ‘Mad Mad Mad Mad Film World’ produced by the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. She is currently working on two documentaries and directing the play, ‘Toronto 1989’. She was a part of the Women + Room sessions 2020 by Pat The Dog Theatre, and was also a recipient of the X Page fellowship for script-writing and performance. Zehra is receiving training as a Bharatanatayam classical dancer. She posts about her work regularly on Instagram @zehra_nawab and on Twitter @zehra_nawab.  

Jane Watson
Jane has been a creator, actor, director and producer of theater and film in KW and Guelph. Her creative career has waxed and waned over the years as she slipped into the different roles of mother, teacher and most recently entrepreneur, however, the underlying passion to create has never abated. Her two self produced short films are Charlie (which won WON Kitchener’s inaugural Breaking Films Independent Film and Art Fest and was selected for the Grand River Film Fest), and Liaison, which recently premiered at the Blood on the Snow Festival in Toronto. Recent performances in local theater include I Hate Hamlet and Twelfth Night and she won local awards for her roles in Affections of May and Rabbit Hole. She was a member of The Women’s Room 2019-2020 with Pat the Dog, during which she met some amazingly cool women for which she is truly thankful. Now she is focusing on writing her first full script, Lady M.

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